decision making

“It’s official in my mind. My boss is a total jerk. Know what he told me this morning? He thinks my decision to implement the automated expense tracking system was a bad one.”

“Did he say why?”

“He says it’s going to create problems with the field sales staff because I didn’t consider other options or involve other people.”

“You did those things, right?”

“Of course I did a little research and talked to couple people I could get ahold of.  But what’s really frying me is I saw a problem and fixed it fast. He should be happy, not beating me up about it.”

Danger signs at the intersection of autonomy and collaboration!

In Motivation, Daniel Pink shares research that details—not surprisingly—that people are stimulated by purpose, mastery and autonomy.

However, if our goal is being a successful leader, it’s important that we balance the autonomy portion of that motivation equation with collaboration. Effective leadership is a two-way engagement.


Decision-making process and elements


Sometimes a party of one is the best decision-maker. Other times, though, achieving workable and productive outcomes requires involving others, especially we want to enhance diversity of thought and secure buy-in and participation.

When involvement and buy-in are your goals, here’s a simple decision-making process that you can use to assure rich, thoughtful outcomes:

1) Be inclusive in your data gathering.

Things you can do: conduct a focus group, chat over coffee, or mingle after the staff meeting. All of these are good venues to share and test preliminary thoughts and invite alternate points of view.

2) Generate and explore other solutions.

Bosses make it clear: solving problems is a big part of our job. Before forging ahead with a solution, though, be sure you’ve read enough, talked enough, and turned over enough rocks to have a full picture of both the problem and potential solutions.

Sometimes when we’re exploring, we discover that the problem we’re trying to solve isn’t the problem at all. As you explore, challenge (in a positive, professional way, of course!) the thinking of those involved. Healthy debate and critical thinking are integral to determining the right solution.

3) Select the outcome that aligns with desired needs.

Be thoughtful in analyzing pros and cons. Ferret out unintended consequences before they happen. Balance the three-legged stool of people, principles, and profits.

4) Double-check your decision.

Before you act, bounce the problem and proposed solution off an impartial third-party. That way, you get a truly unbiased view of whether your solution is on the mark or misses it. If you’re serious about making the best decision, be willing to park the ego and return to square one based on what you learn.

5) Communicate and then communicate some more. 

Double-back with stakeholders (at all levels within the organization) to assure their buy-in. Talk to people who will be impacted by the new system, process, policy, etc. and weigh their feedback. Play angel’s advocate with yourself and with the decision-making team to test assumptions and solutions to see if they hold water.

6) Act and make it so.

Implement the change, create success measures (both quantitative and qualitative as appropriate) and use a thoughtful plan to monitor progress and maintain ongoing communications.

If you’ve followed this process, then you can say “I’ve done my job!”

What works for you in making good decisions?

Image credit before quote:  Pixabay